Kilfenora Development – a lot’s happening!
In December 2020 the creation of a community group ‘Kilfenora Development’ was announced, identifying a number of volunteers who had formed a steering group, representing various aspects of the Kilfenora community.
Since then, due to Covid pandemic restrictions and very slender resources, it has been difficult to undertake any wide involvement and communication, although there have been some targeted consultations in the village on particular topics.
However, on behalf of the village, members of the Steering Group have engaged with Clare County Council (CCC) on topics known to be of concern to the community, and also where possible making grant applications. Here’s just some of what’s been happening.
1 Tidy Towns team – this has been re-started and began work with a very successful clean-up on roads surrounding the village, addressing the excessive littering by antisocial motorists and rubbish dumper. A second clean-up took place this Saturday inside the village, eg weeding in the Square and restoring the cathedral entrance flower bed. More activities are being considered, eg to enhance the Holy Well area, and you will hear more from the team shortly.
2 Kilfenora Square – ways to improve the appearance and amenities in the Square have been much discussed. For example in January a Council grant was sought to upgrade flower beds and install flower planters. (Unfortunately an answer is only going to be given in mid-June). An attempt is being made to get the bicycle racks moved to a better location and a request has been made for an E-car charging point. A community consultation on car parking issues will shortly be announced.
3 Hall upgrading – the Hall Committee is shortly starting Phase 1 of an improvement process, including painting and insulation work. A grant for Phase 2 is being sought, to include improvements to the backstage stairs and creating a better meeting room space upstairs for community use.
4 Kilfenora Cathedral – in collaboration with the Church of Ireland and CCC, a grant application has been submitted for a professional study to define necessary repairs and also to identify uses and thence sources of revenue, so that the Cathedral can be both maintained and used by the community long-term. The newish rector in Ennis (Rev Kevin O’Brien) is keen to see Clare’s CoI churches used more, including for concerts and working with music teachers. (Note – repair work by the Council to the graveyard wall is also being sought.)
5 Village signage – various improvements are under discussion. A consultation on a new style of Burren village signs will shortly be launched.
6 Road improvements – repairs to the Lisdoonvarna road (approx 400 metres) and Noughaval road (2km) are due to take place, probably in July. Kilfenora Development has lobbyied to make the 3 L-road village entrances (from Doolin, Lickeen and Noughaval) safer for walkers and cyclists, particularly by moving 80kph speed limit signs to beyond housing. While that has been denied, CCC has ordered more warning signs to denote local walkers, and these are due to be installed soon.
7 Cliffs of Moher 2040 and Council’s tourism strategy – the Kilfenora Development steering group is considering major proposals for investment that, if we do not make representations and articulate what we want, will yield little benefit for Kilfenora. It is intended to conduct a consultation in the community on the Cliffs strategy in particular in coming weeks, as the outcome of that project will have an effect that will last for years. At the same time Cllr Joe Garrihy has formed a North Clare strategy group local community interests including KIlfenora Development to collaborate on these kind of issues.
8 Burren Discovery Trail – by chance it was discovered that Failte Ireland is planning to install large ‘Caher doorway’ sculptures and display panels at 12 locations in Clare and Galway counties. An initial consultation in 2019 just about creating a ‘trail’ had a mixed reception, and there had been no discussion or information since. The intention is good – to try to attract visitors away from the Wild Atlantic Way to villages and attractions inland. However a rapid consultation with 20 Kilfenora community members involved in tourism identified major flaws with what was proposed, and some of these were corrected by Failte Ireland. There is no communication as yet when the installations will be made, but the Kilfenora one is due to be placed adjacent to the Burren Centre.
9 Cycleways and walkways – some initial work has been undertaken to map out a range of walking and cycling routes around Kilfenora, building on some preliminary work undertaken with the Burren Geopark some years ago. This is intended to aid wellbeing in the community, as well as providing some additional reason for visitors to stay and sped in the area.
10 Improving Kilfenora’s website – a small grant has been obtained from Clare County Council to improve this website. This will contribute to the future promotion of Kilfenora and increasing the village’s ‘digital presence’ – hopefully thereby helping to bring income into the community. (The website and Kilfenora Online facebook page are maintained by voluntary efforts.)
Despite Covid conditions, plenty of efforts are being made to enhance what Kilfenora has to offer. To mention two other points, the Council’s installation of a Digital Hub and a wi-fi service in the Square is very welcome, as is the grant for modernisation of the Burren Centre (a tender for contactors will shortly be issued).
Kilfenora Development is constantly scanning and checking opportunities for grants and support for village enhancement. It is often not easy to meet the particular requirements of the various schemes announced by central and local government and other funding bodies, eg Failte Ireland.
However, thanks is due to certain Clare County Council officials who are now engaging regularly with Kilfenora’s community group – this has never happened before. In addition there has been active support and interest shown in Kilfenora’s development by Councillors Joe Garrihy and Joe Killeen in particular.